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Viewing Folders and Files

In Windows Vista you can open any Windows Explorer to view the folders and files on your system. Perhaps the easiest Explorer to use is the Documents Explorer, which you open by clicking the Documents icon on the Start menu. The Documents Explorer opens automatically to display the contents of the Documents folder on your computer's hard disk.

As you can see in Figure 7.1, the Documents Explorer displays not only individual files but also other folders—called subfolders—that themselves contain other files. You can perform most file-related operations by clicking the Organize button to display the Organize menu, or by right-clicking a file icon to display the context-sensitive pop-up menu.

Figure 7.1

Figure 7.1 Manage your folders and files with Windows Vista's Documents Explorer.

Changing the Way Files Are Displayed

You can choose to view the contents of a folder in a variety of ways. To change the file view, click the Views button on the Explorer toolbar; this displays a pull-down menu. You can then select from the available views: Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Small Icons, List, Details, or Tiles. You can also move the slider up and down to change the size of the file/folder icons.

Sorting Files and Folders

When viewing files in the Documents Explorer, you can sort your files and folders in a number of ways. To do this, right-click anywhere in the Explorer window, select the Sort By option, and then choose to sort by Name, Date Modified, Type, Size, or Tags. You can also choose to sort the items in either ascending or descending order.

If you want to view your files in alphabetical order, choose to sort by Name. If you want to see all similar files grouped together, choose to sort by Type. If you want to sort your files by the date and time they were last edited, choose the Date Modified option. And if you want to sort by a user-applied file tag (assuming you've done this in the file's host program), choose the Tags option.

Grouping Files and Folders

You can also configure Windows to group the files in your folder, which can make it easier to identify particular files. For example, if you sorted your files by time and date modified, they'll now be grouped by date (Today, Yesterday, Last Week, and so on). If you sorted your files by type, they'll be grouped by file extension, and so on.

To turn on grouping, right-click anywhere in the Explorer window, select the Group By option, and then choose to group by Name, Date Modified, Type, Size, or Tags. Windows now groups your files and folders by the selected criteria.

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